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Hawco used his head for some Challenge Cup history


Normally on this sort of soccer play — a free kick from the corner of the 18-yard box — Canada Games goalkeeper Sam Hawco’s focus would be on getting ready for a possible save or grabbing the ball as it came into his area or punching it away.

Sam Hawco

But that would be if the play was being made at his team’s end of pitch.

Wednesday night at the Topsail Turf Complex, Hawco made what many think might be Challenge Cup soccer history when he scored a goal from a set piece in the final minute to give the Gerry O’Brien Financial Games team a 2-2 tie with the C.B.S. That Pro Look Strikers.

Keepers have scored goals before in Challenge Cup play. John Douglas, named the league’s top keeper with the St. Lawrence Laurentians last season, saw Scott Edwards do it once for Marystown and also recalls Albert Stacey scoring for the Lawn Shamrocks against Grand Bank.

But in both cases, they came from a long, wind-assisted kicks from the other end of the field which caught the opposing keeper off the line.

“But never in that manner. It was absolutely fantastic what Sam did,” said Douglas, who also happens to be the goalkeeping coach for the Games team.

The free kick came about when a Games player was brought down just outside the box. Ryan Dunphy of Marystown took the kick. sending it towards the high-traffic area that had built up in front of the Strikers’ net, with Hawco having added to the congestion.

The lanky Mount Pearl teen went high in the air to get a head on the cross to send the ball it into the opposing goal.

“The thing was that it happened because of his own ingenuity, you could say,” said Douglas. “Sometimes, you wave at the goalkeeper to go for it. Sometimes they ask ‘What do you think?’

“But Sam didn’t ask and he didn’t wait for a wave. He took it upon himself and went up.

“We (the coaches) were trying to orchestrate how the free shot (by Dunphy) would come in — whether it was going to swing out or swing in — and when we glanced up, we saw a green jersey in the box and it was Sam.”

Hawco has scored as a keeper before — but that was as an under-12 player on a drop kick that produced one of those fluke shots. And he had jumped up on the play a couple of times with the Games team last season.

“But this was actually the first time this season that the situation meant I had a real chance to do it. So I didn’t care what anyone said, I was going up,” said the 17-year-old. “Ryan was putting it into traffic and luckily, it just came my way and I thought ‘I’m getting a head on this, no matter what.’

I had a C.B.S. player on me, kind of contesting it, but I did get a head on it.”

Hawco has tried such headers in fool-around time before or after practices, but Douglas said the play is not in any formal game plan.

“It was Sam’s initiative,” credited Douglas, who added the six-foot-three also displayed “phenomenal athleticism.

“His hang-time was absolutely amazing,” said Douglas. “After the game, Tony Mullett, who was the referee, said it seemed he was hanging up there for seconds, that he just seemed to stay in the air.”

When asked if he was at all envious of Hawco’s accomplishment, Douglas chuckled. “Not jealous, just happy for Sam … well maybe a little (jealous). Then again, no one would call me (to come) ahead on a corner kick because I’m not tall enough.”

“I could be the one coming up to take a free kick, but not to get a head on it.”

Hawco, who will enter Grade 12 at Mount Pearl Senior High this fall, joked he thought “it might be easier being a player than a keeper.”

And despite being pleased with what had happened, he believes he might have broken some rule of the goalkeepers’ union, noting the reaction of his opposite number on the Strikers.

“After the game, he gave me a little dirty look,” said Hawco.


The result of the game leaves C.B.S. (5-5-3) and the Canada Games side (5-6-3)  — which is playing in the league on an exhibition basis — tied with 18 points, although the Strikers have played one fewer game.

Emmanuel Dolo had the other Games goal. It was his eghth of tthe season, giving him secon place in the league scoring parade, two behind Jake Warren of Holy Cross.

Daniel Quinn and Tony Pomroy replied for C.B.S.


One of the great things about Hawco’s dramatic goal is that there is a video record of it.

Former Challenge Cup commissioner Gord Dunphy has taken it upon himself to live-stream a number of league games this season — it’s being called the ‘Gord-cast” — and Wednesday’s contest in C.B.S. was one of them.

You can access it through Dunphy’ Facebook site at

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